If you ever wanted to get a read on Vancouver’s dining scene, a recent rehearsal for Culinary Team Canada 2016 at Earls Yaletown Loft more than obliged. Earls is one of several sponsors helping the team in its quest at the International Culinary Olympics, the hotly contested event that takes place in Erfurt, Germany, Oct. 21 to 26.
On hand at Earls, a team of stellar chefs from across Canada included a heavy Vancouver representation.
One chef who’s been a fixture since day one with Team Canada is Bruno Marti, the former owner La Belle Auberge, who (again) is coaching the crew, with Vancouver Community College’s John Carlo Carlo Felicella as manager.
Make no mistake — these are serious, pressure-cooker contests. The team can be called upon to produce dozens of flawless plates at a moment’s notice. But they also serve as vital means to build a culinary culture. Over the years, these kinds of contests (along with the likes of the Bocuse d’Or) have helped forge the calibre of dining Vancouver now takes for granted.
Premium, Canadian ingredients are also part of the deal. With so many superlative tastes, it was hard to pick faves. But dishes sure to impress hard-to-please judges will be mouthwatering butter poached sturgeon, from Northern Divine; tender and tasty organic beef tenderloin from the Blue Goose Cattle Co.; and Pear Tree chef Scott Jaeger's sweetbread chanterelle terrine. Not to mention pastry chef Fumiko Moreton’s extraordinary dessert offerings. Go Team Canada!
Restaurants come and go with regularity. Yet rarely are announcements made with the sincerity which accompanied the news that Provence Mediterranean Grill will close after 19 years, following brunch service on Nov. 27.
“After much soul searching, negotiating and dreaming,” Alessandra and Jean-Francis Quaglia have decided to accept an offer from their former employee, Raj Aujay.
The family says letting go of their original restaurant was akin to saying goodbye to their youngest son as he headed off on his first solo trip to Europe.
Aujay plans to offer positions to the West 10th Avenue employees, while the Quaglia family hopes hope to “absorb any of those who would like to stay with Provence into Marinaside and TWB [The Wine Bar] if at all possible.” Classy. What does TWB stand for?
The Quaglias have made their mark in more ways than one. The sale is part of a progression that started when the couple jumped into the untested waters “downtown” of what at the time was a very underdeveloped Yaletown. Their refreshing, updated take on a more casual-style French cuisine was a perfect move for the time. As was the later unveiling of TWB and one of the city’s biggest wine on tap and by the glass programs.
Warm reception for Inception
Vancouver’s cocktail culture has been elevated to new levels in recent years, thanks to a core of driven purists: a cadre of bartenders and mixologists bent on delivering the ultimate in creative sipping. At Rosewood Georgia Hotel’s Prohibition Lounge, there’s alchemy at play at the hands of head bartenders Brad Stanton and Robyn Gray. Still all the rage here is the two-tone Inception Negroni (some folks even fly in from the UK to try it). This truly extraordinary drink — made with Broker’s Gin, Martini Bianco and Suze, evolves as it sits in the glass, as the ingenious ice sphere that contains the red Negroni melts. Make sure you get there to order it early, as only a few spheres can be made each evening. Details at prohibitionrhg.com.
Belly’s Budget Best
Monte del Frá Corvina Veronese 2015
Lighter style red yields bright, crushed red berry and floral notes on top followed by juicy cherry and peppery notes, grippy tannins and a hint of savoury in the finish. Think braised meats or cheeses. $15.99, 90 pts.